Tesla Model S True Ownership Cost, Including Depreciation – Video


Kelley Blue Book Doesn't Even Include The Tesla Model S In It's Electric Car Cost To Own Data

Kelley Blue Book Doesn’t Even Include The Tesla Model S In Its Electric Car Cost To Own Data

We have featured Ben Sullins’ videos in the past. He has taken the time to put together some nifty calculators to attempt to figure out vehicle cost of ownership and to compare maintenance costs among competitors.

Much of what Sullins does is spawned by questions and requests from other Tesla owners. In this latest installment, he estimates Tesla Model S ownership costs.

He points out that his personals ownership costs aren’t as spectacular as one would hope (when compared to ICE vehicles), due to the high price of electricity in his home state of California. This information will apply directly to a myriad of EV owners, as a substantial group of them reside in the Golden State.

Sullins factors in fuel, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and depreciation, to come up with the “true cost to own” for the Tesla Model S. The Tesla website has a fuel savings calculator built into the Model S configurator. There is an abundance of information, complete with many charts and graphs, that spells it all out very clearly. However, as Sullins continually reminds, there are many variables.

When It Comes To Depreciation, Tesla Is In a Class Of Its Own

Video Description via Teslanomics by Ben Sullins on YouTube:

The Tesla Model S is in a class of its own in nearly all categories you look at. When it comes to depreciation, it also outperforms all the other Electric Vehicles (EVs) as well as the gas-powered (ICE) cars with a similar price tag. If you’re looking in the higher-end affordable luxury market, or the real luxury market you will be hard-pressed to find a better value for your dollar.

The four broad categories of expenses to look at when calculating the exact price of a car, EV or otherwise, are fuel, insurance, maintenance/repairs, and depreciation. The first three are out-of-pocket expenses that require you to spend money however depreciation is the largest of the four categories by far. The main difference with depreciation is that you don’t spend this money, rather, you lose the money when you go to sell the vehicle. Unlike other ICE cars or EVs I bet you won’t want to actually ever sell your Tesla, but in case you do, I wanted to provide some insight using the data I found.

The data from Autolist.com shows that when comparing a Tesla Model S to other luxury vehicles with a similar price tag, it retains its value from 30-60% better over a span of 30-100k miles. Since the Tesla Model S engine is rated to go nearly 500K miles the typical comparison of five years doesn’t really make sense since it would be almost impossible to drive that distance in that time.

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33 Comments on "Tesla Model S True Ownership Cost, Including Depreciation – Video"

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It would depend which version you get. If you had bought an RWD in 2013 versus an AP 1.0 equipped Classic fascia versus an AP 2.0 equipped Facelift fascia. Older “versions” depreciate faster and were not covered as such in this article.

If you drill down through KBB total cost analysis they don’t include the $7500 federal tax credit, which will hugely affect depreciation and total cost for five years.

Also their maintenance and repair cost estimates are insane. For a Bolt EV they estimate $5,076 in repair and maintenance cost over five years.

KBB is a joke. A look at Ebay, Craigs Cars.com or Autotrader makes it obvious.

TeZZla, ugh.

There is a problem with these estimates, they are backward looking. There are few used Model S on the market. Once you have more Model S hitting the used market, they will depreciate faster, Not as bad as the Germans, but probably more than a Lexus.

What I’ve observed of CPO Tesla prices, that doesn’t seem to be happening so far. The lowest CPO Tesla prices were actually late fall/winter of 2015.

True, and unique about Tesla is how much of the used market is in their hands. A dealer CPO backing weights the pricing upward, and because Tesla know as well as anybody their cars don’t suffer exhuast/engine or even significant brake wear, it makes more sense to keep it captive.

Most Model S cars are less than 3 years old. So there is no data to back up these claims. Price is a function of supply and demand. Going forward there will be more supply but the same or less demand (due to competition from Bolt, new Leaf etc.)

Right, because demand is fixed. There is no potential for more drivers to become interested in EVs – saturated.

There is massive demand for Teslas. Perhaps not at massive at $70k but we know at $35k+, there is massive demand. That is what drives the used model S market. It also puts a floor on prices. Very unusual to see a CPO under $50k because there are 400,000 buyers at that price point.

If that was true Tesla LOA offers would be extremely attractive, benefiting a fantastic residual value after 5 or 5 years of usage. But this is NOT the case, it’s the opposite. Tesla lease are crap, not even worth consirering, and reason is the crappy residual value in them. Unfortunaly because I would have considered a Lease ratther than a purchase for my future Model X…..

Or a lot of discounting off MSRP to move the units.

And that’s why there are almost 400,000 people on the waiting list for the Model 3 too, right. Buy or lease one before you make comments like this. Currently a Model S owner (buying not leasing), and we also have a Model 3 reservation.

Also if you see what CPO’s are selling for 2012 to 2016, you would know that they actually do hold their value. Just ask anyone who is looking for a deal on a used one. They are typically still at least 40k at car max of all places.

No one has seen the mythical 400000 reservations, and Mr. Musk has shut his mouth about it. Let’s just wait to see how many they actually sell. If Tesla sells more than 50,000 of this in any year in US alone, it will be a miracle. If he had such a large waiting list, would he be running around making a fool of himself digging rabbit holes here and there?

Tesla’s CPOs come with 4 year/50k additional warranty. The certified pre-owned programs of German cars are not so generous. Typically 2 years additional.

I, if you noticed, own one. Current owners have more access to what is going on with Tesla than people who don’t. Tesla actually has not shut up about the 400,000 reservations. It is actually over 500,000 now. Furthermore, don’t know where you got your info from. I found that out through a general search…… Like the post below states, how about owning or leasing one before you speak of what you don’t know.

Tesla sold about 50,000 Model S and X’s in the last 2 quarters. Cars which start at 66k and go up. We also have a Model 3 reservation. We were in the 300,000 range, and we got moved up when we purchased the S. So considering what my spot was, I can vouch for at least 325k reservations. Anymore questions……

“Buy or lease one before you make comments like this.”

Oh, I suspect “FreePat” knows perfectly well he’s posting B.S. The short-sellers are quite upset with how much money they’re losing asTesla’s stock price spikes, and they’ve been posting lots of FUD lately in an effort that’s so desperate it would be hilarious, if it didn’t interrupt useful discussion here.

DonC and “Dr ValueSeeker” certainly know better than to believe their own lies; they regularly post anti-Tesla FUD here, and the “Doctor” never posts anything else.

If you have to spend hours on your pocket calculator to see if you can afford a Tesla Model S, then you can’t afford it. It’s that simple.

The estimated depreciation here directly contradicts those provided in an piece yesterday, which claimed abnormally high depreciation for electric vehicles. So which one is right? My guess is somewhere in between but closer to this one.

The big myth is lower maintenance costs. Fuel will be lower but there are many parts to a car other than the drive train, and any one of those parts can fail.

On the other hand, who wants to drive an S Class or Series 7 sedan? Ugh.

My leaf is worthless, but used teslas are still too expensive for me.

I think electric cars as a whole but excluding Tesla have high depreciation rates, but Tesla depreciates slowly.

As for maintenance, it really is close to zero fit an electric car (even the craptastic leaf in my garage). Was much higher in my ice and hybrid cars.

Part of it is that the Model S benefits greatly from how lousy their competition is when it comes to depreciation.

Mercedes and Jaguar have long been kings of depreciation, along with Land Rover and other poor performers with high repair bills.

DonC pretended to ask:

“The estimated depreciation here directly contradicts those provided in an piece yesterday, which claimed abnormally high depreciation for electric vehicles. So which one is right?”

I think you know the answer, DonC, and you’re just trolling here as part of your serial Tesla bashing.

In general, “early adopter” tech depreciates very rapidly because each new generation of the tech is a substantial improvement over the last. In general, EVs are no exception to that rule.

However, Tesla cars are a very notable exception, for multiple reasons:

1. Demand for Tesla’s cars continues to be less than supply for the car (that is, Tesla carefully manages demand so supply remains slightly below that level)

2. Most used Tesla cars are sold thru Tesla’s own CPO program, so they are able to keep the prices for used cars at a higher level than they probably would otherwise

3. Tesla does not do pointless style changes for each new model year as most auto makers do, so the cars don’t visibly age as much; therefore depreciation is noticeably less. Note the classic VW Beetle showed the same trend, so this isn’t unique to Tesla cars.

I love mine so much, I don’t plan on giving it up; it simply “appreciates” IMHO!!!

As long as you appreciate it, it’s appreciated.

Until you need to shell out $9000 for battery replacement cost,ev motor will die eventually

The motor is “rated” to go 500k miles. Except for all the ones that fail after 30-60k, lol.

Nice and since any failures you read about online were under warranty, what is your point?


I doubt you can find many reports of actual motor failures in Tesla cars. There have been a lot of drive unit replacements, many or most for preventative reasons rather than failure. They swap out the entire “drive unit”, which includes the motor, because it’s far easier and quicker to do that at a Tesla service center; not because the motor needs to be replaced or serviced.

But those replacements tend to be for things such as noise in the reduction gear, or more rarely inverter failure. The electric motor itself is very simple and very robust, and should long outlast the car in nearly every case.

The beauty about living in CA is that solar power is so effective. I cover all consumption of a four bedroom house, a VW eGolf and a Tesla Model X with a 10kW PV system leveraging E6 TOU plan with netmetering on PG&E.

Also recently PG&E started a campaign that if you have an electric vehicle registered under your name and are a PG&E customer they will send you a $500 rebate check per electric vehicle.

Riddle me this….. If you don’t own, have never owned, will never own, and can’t even afford a Tesla, why do you even care? There’s one in my garage right now, and we love ours. We considered other high-end cars, but ultimately settled on one that suits our needs and happens to be an EV. Model S…….

The comparison isn’t quite valid because they are not taking into account the incentives, which for a lower price car have a bigger impact. Take the Nissan LEAF in Musk’s tweet for example. It says $9300 left from an MSRP of $36733 which is 25.3% left. But the original owner got a $7500 rebate and if the car was sold in CA most likely another $2500 so the actual depreciation for that owner is 34.8%.

There are really two things that are boosting depreciation factors, the incentives as already mentioned and then there is technology obsolesence. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a 3 year old Nissan LEAF, certainly not compared with any other 3 year old car but now that cars are coming with more and more range people just don’t want to spend money on “old” technology. This is where the Tesla retains its value I think. A 3 year old Tesla still has attractive enough tech for people to want to buy it. This might change though once the legacy car makers release their model S competitors.

You are very right about both factors you mentioned. Here are two more important ones:
1. Loss of range with agingfo the battery.
2. Lack of extended warranty for EVs. Try calling any of the extended warranty companies.

Taking MSRP as the starting point is only valid if MSRP is the transaction price. In the extreme case of my ELR, the MSRP was $80,600. The transaction price after incentives was $43,000. Used ELRs are selling in the $35k range right now.

“personals ownership costs” should be “personal ownership costs”.